Sync vs. Slurp vs. Spew

While I like TLAs, I much prefer short descriptive words.  I’ve been living in the world of “sync” for a long time, dating back to when – as an early Lotus Notes user – I discovered the joy of “replication.”  While Amy and I never had any replicants running around our house, I have always been infatuated with the notion of one copy of my data being available to me anywhere I happen to me with it always automagically being kept in “sync.” 

In the last few years, I’ve gotten sync working nicely with things other than email.  My Firefox bookmarks/cookies/history is now synced (thanks Google), my RSS stuff is now synced (thanks NewsGator), my files will soon be synced (thanks Tilana), my contact data is sort of synced (um – thanks Plaxo?), all my social networks are – er – wait a sec.  I like working on a desktop so I’ve got them scattered all over the place and – for the most part – whenever I sit down at one it works like all the others.  Except for all that new data I’m generating out there on the web in all those nifty new web applications that TechCrunch reviews every day that I feel compelled to create a user name and password for (wait – what about my password data – why isn’t that synced?)  Shit – maybe it doesn’t work so well.

I was in a meeting the other day where we were talking about two different data modalities whose instantiations are spreading like tribbles.  There are all kinds of fancy names for them – I like to think of them as “slurp” (as in my system can slurp in data from anywhere) and “spew” (as in my system can spew out data to anywhere).  Yeah – I know API’s and Web Services enable all this stuff – and that’s nothing new, but my dad understands slurp and spew a lot better.

The second order issues with slurp and spew are brutal.  Thanks – now I’ve got copies of my data everywhere.  But – unlike sync – when I change something on one system – the receiver needs to know what to do with it.  While sync might solve that, then everyone has to sync with everything and that won’t work.  Or – someone has to come up with a universal sync format – and that won’t ever happen.  Or – everyone just has to trust someone who then has to build a 100% uptime / 100% secure / 100% transparent system.  Yeah right.

A couple of companies that I’m an investor in are doing really clever things with slurp and spew.  I like those words – maybe they’ll stick.

  • I confess I had to look at the wikepedia definition. An acronym for an acronym. Perfect. Earlier today I started reading a post by Rick Edelmen about CSR, and it took me a minute to retrieve Corporate Social Responsibility from under Customer Service Representative. They just stack up.

    Until recently, slurp and spew would have been something that sent me into Mom Must Learn To Understand Boys Mode (I have 2 sons), but I think I’m about ready for this!

    When I entered the business world nobody knew what an NDA was. We used cocktail napkins and handshakes. Since I can’t go back, forward it is.

    Oh, and thanks for the link to Stan’s meme sex post this morning!

  • Brad:

    Sounds like you fit Bill Taylor and Polly LaBarre’s definition of a “maverick.” The two just co-authored “Mavericks at Work” and highlight “authentically homegrown” vocabulary (such as Cranium’s “Grand Poo Bah” – their co-founder’s title, amongst other examples cited) as indicative of greater things.


  • Dave

    I like the slurp/spew metaphor. I like the new design of the blog too.

    It’s impressive that you have achieved such synchronicity. I have changed laptops 3 times in the last 12 months (don’t ask) and I have migrated from a treo to a blackberry. Everytime I change a device it is a total pain to sync.

    Perhaps there should be a webservice that tracks all of our webservices such that we could reach sync nirvana and port all the successful synch profile.

    Is there such a thing? If there was one place where all this data was spewed to – settings too – boy would I love that.

  • Interesting that you should be posting this now, I’m actually working on a program to address part of this problem. I’m in Iraq right now, so not much is being done beyond prototyping.

    There are a couple parts to what I am working on, the first is a client application (Open Source) to store information. This stores attributes and profiles, a profile called “Resume” would have attributes like FirstName and Address.

    This profile can then be shared to people and when the attributes are updated it will offer to notify anyone you have shared the profile with.

    The ‘itch’ for me is updating information at various web sites. When I move the Postal Service will only notify people that send me snail mail, I have to visit eBay, Amazon, Netfliz, etc. to update my address. The same is true for any other piece of information.

    Anyway, just a short note to say “I am glad I am not the only one with this problem.”


  • Tony Arcieri

    OpenID provides a fully decentralized single sign-on system, so you can keep your username and password in one place, then just pass a URL to OpenID-enabled sites when you want to create an account there:

    It’s kind of like what Microsoft envisioned with Passport, but without a centralized authority managing a master password list. Instead, anyone can set up an identity provider and use that with any OpenID-enabled site.